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The Testament of Joseph

the eleventh son of Jacob and Rachel

Chapter 1

1:1 “A copy of the testament of Joseph. When he was about to die, he called his sons and his brothers and said to them:”
1:2 “My brothers and my children. Listen to Joseph, the one beloved of Israel. Give ear to the words of my mouth.”
1:3 “In my life I have seen envy and death. But I have not gone astray: I continued in the truth of the Lord.”
1:4 “These, my brothers, hated me but the Lord loved me. They wanted to kill me, but the God of my fathers preserved me. Into a cistern they lowered me; the Most High raised me up.”
1:5 “They sold me into slavery; the Lord of all set me free. I was taken into captivity; the strength of His hand came to my aid. I was overtaken by hunger; the Lord himself fed me generously.”
1:6 “I was alone, and God came to help me. I was in weakness, and the Lord showed his concern for me. I was in prison, and the Savior acted graciously in my behalf. I was in bonds, and he loosed me;”
1:7 “Falsely accused, and he testified in my behalf. Assaulted by bitter words of the Egyptians, and he rescued me. A slave, and he exalted me.”

Chapter 2

2:1 “And this chief officer of Pharaoh entrusted to me his household.”
2:2 “I struggled with a shameless woman who kept prodding me to transgress with her, but the God of my father rescued me from the burning flame.”
2:3 “I was jailed, I was whipped, I was sneered at, but the Lord granted me mercy in the sight of the prison-keeper.”
2:4 “For the Lord does not abandon those who fear/reverence him, neither in darkness, or chains, or tribulation or direst need.”
2:5 “For God does not disappoint as does man, nor is he timorous like a son of man nor like an earthborn is he weak or frightened away.”
2:6 “In all these matters he takes his stand, and in various ways he offers assistance, even though for a brief time he may stand aside in order to test the disposition of the soul.”
2:7 “In ten testings he showed that I was approved, and in all of them I persevered, because perseverance is a powerful medicine and endurance provides many good things.”

Chapter 3

3:1 “How often the Egyptian woman threatened me with death! How often, after turning me over to the tormentors she would call me back and threaten me! But since I was unwilling to have intercourse with her, she kept saying to me,”
3:2 “You will be master over me and all my household if you will only give yourself over to me; then you will be our ruler.”
3:3 “But I recalled my father’s words, went weeping into my quarters, and prayed to the Lord.”
3:4 “For those seven years I fasted, and yet seemed to the Egyptians like someone who was living luxuriously, for those who fast for the sake of God receive graciousness of countenance.”
3:5 “If my master was absent, I drank no wine; for three-day periods I would take no food but give it to the poor and the ill.”
3:6 “I would awaken early and pray to the Lord, weeping over the Egyptian woman of Memphis because she annoyed me exceedingly and relentlessly.”
3:7 “In the night she would come in to me, pretending a mere visit. Because she had no male child, she pretended to consider me as a son.”
3:8 “For a time she would embrace me as a son, but then I realized later that she was trying to lure me into a sexual relationship.”
3:9 “When I became aware of this I lamented to the point of death. After she had gone out, I came to myself and mourned in her behalf for many days, because I had recognized her deceit and her deviousness.”
3:10 “I spoke to her the words of the Most High, hoping he might divert her from evil desire.”

Chapter 4

4:1 “How often, then, did she flatter me with words as a holy man, deceitfully praising my self-control through her words in the presence of her husband, but when we were alone she sought to seduce me.”
4:2 “Publicly she honored me for my self-control, while privately she said to me, Have no fear of my husband, for he is convinced of your chastity so that even if someone were to tell him about you, he would not believe it.”
4:3 “During all these affairs I stretched out on the ground praying God to rescue me from her treachery.”
4:4 “When she achieved nothing by means of it, she began to approach me for instruction, so that she might learn the Word of God.”
4:5 “And she kept saying to me, If you want me to abandon the idols, have intercourse with me, and I shall persuade my husband to put away the idols, and we shall live in the presence of your Lord.”
4:6 “But I kept telling her that the Lord did not want worshipers who come by means of uncleanness, nor would he be pleased with adulterers, but with those who were pure in heart and undefiled in speech.”
4:7 “She was consumed with jealousy, wanting to fulfill her desire.”
4:8 “But I devoted myself the more to fasting and prayer that the Lord might rescue me from her.”

Chapter 5

5:1 “Again on another occasion she said to me, If you do not want to commit adultery, I shall kill my husband by a drug and take you as my husband.”
5:2 “When I heard this, I tore my clothing and said to her, Woman, show reverence to God; do not commit this wicked deed, lest you be utterly destroyed. For you should know that I shall make it known to all that this is your scheme.”
5:3 “Filled with fear, she ordered me not to disclose her plan.”
5:4 “Then she withdrew, but kept trying to entice me with gifts and every manner of pleasurable things.”

Chapter 6

6:1 “Later she sent me food mixed with enchantments.”
6:2 “When the eunuch who was carrying it arrived, I looked up and saw a frightening man who offered me a sword along with the bowl. So I perceived it was a trick to lead me astray.”
6:3 “When he departed, I wept; I tasted neither one item nor the other of the food he brought.”
6:4 “A day later she came to me and said, when she recognized the food, Why didn’t you eat the food?”
6:5 “And I said to her Because you filled it with a deadly enchantment. How can you say, I do not go near idols, but only to the Lord.”
6:6 “Now then understand that the God of my father revealed to me through an angel your wickedness, but I have kept it for this reason: to shame you if somehow by seeing it you might repent.”
6:7 “In order for you to learn that the evil of the irreligious will not triumph over those who exercise self-control in their worship of God, I will take this and eat it in your presence. When I had said that, I prayed aloud, May the God of my fathers and the angel of Abraham be with me.”
6:8 “And I ate. When she saw this, she fell upon her face at my feet weeping. I raised her up and warned her, and she agreed with me that she should no longer commit this impiety.”

Chapter 7

7:1 “But her heart was still inclined to evil and she turned over in her mind how she might entrap me. Shortly she was groaning and depressed, even though she was not sick.”
7:2 “When her husband saw her, he said to her, Why are you so downcast? She responded to him, I am suffering from a pain in my heart, and groans of my spirit have taken hold of me.”
7:3 “He tried to cure her with words. Then she seized the occasion and came running in to me, while her husband was still outside, and said to me, I shall hang myself, or hurl myself over the precipice if you do not have intercourse with me.”
7:4 “Since I perceived that the spirit of Beliar/Satan was troubling her, I prayed to the Lord, but I said to her:”
7:5 “Why, wretched female, are you troubled and disturbed, blinded by sin? Remember that if you kill yourself, Astetha, your husband’s concubine, who is filled with envy of you, will beat your children; thus you will destroy your memory from the earth.”
7:6 “And she said, See, then, you do love me. That is enough. Only keep contending for my life and that of my children, and I shall cling to my expectation of gaining my desire.”
7:7 “She did not understand that I spoke in this way for the Lord’s sake and not for hers.”
7:8 “For if anyone is subjected to the passion of desire and is enslaved by it, as she was, even when he hears something good bearing on that passion he receives it as aiding his wicked desire.”

Chapter 8

8:1 “I tell you, my children, it was about the sixth hour when she left me. Bending my knees before the Lord, I prayed a whole day and a whole night. Toward dawn I arose, crying and begging deliverance from her.”
8:2 “Finally, she grasped my clothing, determined to force me into having intercourse with her.”
8:3 “When I saw, therefore, that in her madness she had seized my garment, I shook loose and left it and fled naked.”
8:4 “She held on to it, and brought false accusation against me. Her husband came and threw me in prison in his own house; then the next day he whipped me and sent me to the Pharaoh’s prison.”
8:5 “When I was in fetters, the Egyptian woman was overtaken with grief. She came and heard the report how I gave thanks to the Lord and sang praise in the house of darkness, and how I rejoiced with cheerful voice, glorifying my God, because through her trumped-up charge I was set free from this Egyptian woman.”

Chapter 9

9:1 “Many times she sent messages to me saying, Acquiesce in fulfilling my desire, and I will release you from the fetters and liberate you from the darkness.”
9:2 “Not even in my mind did I yield to her, for God loves more the one who is faithful in self-control in a dark cistern than the one who in royal chambers feasts on delicacies with excess.”
9:3 “If a man strives for self-control and at the same time desires glory – and the Most High knows that it is appropriate for him – he brings it about for him, even as he did for me.”
9:4 “How often, as though she were ill, she came down at odd hours and listened to my voice as I prayed! When I was aware of her groaning, I fell silent.”
9:5 “For when I had been with her in her house, she would bare her arms and thighs so that I might lie with her. For she was wholly beautiful and splendidly decked out to entice me, but the Lord protected me from her manipulations.”

Chapter 10

10:1 “So you see, my children, how great are the things that patience and prayer with fasting accomplish.”
10:2 “You also, if you pursue self-control and purity with patience and prayer with fasting in humility of heart, the Lord will swell among you, because he loves self-control.”
10:3 “And where the Most High dwells, even if envy befall someone, or slavery or false accusation, the Lord who dwells with him on account of his self-control not only will rescue him from these evils, but will exalt him and glorify him as he did for me.”
10:4 “For these problems beset all mankind either in deed or word or thought.”
10:5 “For my brothers know how much my father loved me, yet I was not puffed up in my thoughts. Even while I was a child I had the fear/reverence of God in my heart, for I understood that all things pass away.”
10:6 “I did not arouse myself with evil design, but honored my brothers, and out of regard for them even when they sold me I was silent rather than tell the Ishmaelites that I was the son of Jacob, a great and righteous man.”

Chapter 11

11:1 “You, therefore, my children, in every act keep the fear/reverence of God before your eyes and honor your brothers. For everyone who does the Law of the Lord will be loved by him.”
11:2 “As I was going with the Ishmaelites, they kept asking me, Are you a slave? And I replied, I am a slave out of a household, so as not to disgrace my brothers.”
11:3 “The greatest of them said to me, You are not a slave; even your appearance discloses that. But I told them that I was a slave.”
11:4 “As we were reaching Egypt they began to squabble over me as to which of them would put up the money and take me.”
11:5 “Accordingly it seemed good to all of them that I should be left in Egypt with a trader handling their trading post until they returned bringing their merchandise.”
11:6 “The Lord granted me favor in the eyes of the trader and he entrusted me with his household.”
11:7 “And God blessed him by my hand, and he prospered in gold and silver and in business. And I was with him three months.”

Chapter 12

12:1 “At that time the Memphian woman, Pentephris’ wife, came down in a palanquin with great splendor, because she had heard about me from one of her eunuchs.”
12:2 “She said to her husband that through a certain young Hebrew the trader had become rich; they say that he surely stole him out of the land of Canaan.”
12:3 “Now, then, work justice concerning him; take the young man to your household, and the God of the Hebrews will bless you, because grace from heaven is with him.”

Chapter 13

13:1 “Pentephris believed her words, ordered the trader to come, and said to him, What is this I hear about you, that you steal persons from the land of Canaan and sell them as slaves?”
13:2 “The trader fell at his feet and besought him saying, I pray you, my lord, I do not know what you are saying.”
13:3 “Pentephris said to him, Where is this Hebrew from, then? And he said, The Ishmaelites left him with me until they return.”
13:4 “But he did not believe the trader and ordered that he be stripped and beaten.”
13:5 “But since he persisted in his statements, Pentephris said, Bring in the young man. When I entered I prostrated myself before Pentephris, for he was third in rank among Pharaoh’s officers.”
13:6 “And taking me aside from the trader he said to me, Are you a slave or a freeman?”
13:7 “I said to him, A slave. He said, Of whom? I replied, Of the Ishmaelites.”
13:8 “He said, How did you become a slave? And I said, They bought me out of the land of Canaan.”
13:9 “But he said to me, You are really lying. and immediately he ordered that I also be stripped and whipped.”

Chapter 14

14:1 “The Memphian woman was watching through the doors as they beat me, for her residence was nearby. So she sent a message to him. Your sentence is unjust, because you have punished as a wrongdoer someone who, though a freeman, was stolen.”
14:2 “But since I did not change my statement while they were beating me, he ordered me to be imprisoned until, he said, the masters of the servant boy arrive.”
14:3 “But the woman said to her husband, Why do you detain in bonds this young man who, though a captive, is well-born?”
14:4 “Rather he should be set free and attended to by my servants. She wanted to see me by reason of her sinful passion, but I was ignorant of all these things.”
14:5 “He said to her, It is not proper for Egyptians to take away what belongs to others before the evidence has been presented. He said this concerning the trader, but the young man he kept incarcerated.”

Chapter 15

15:1 “Twenty-four days later the Ishmaelites came; they had heard that Jacob, my father, was mourning greatly over me, and they came and told me.”
15:2 “Why did you tell us that you were a slave? Look, we now know that you are the son of a great man in the land of Canaan, and that your father is mourning for you in sackcloth and ashes.”
15:3 “When I heard this my inner being was dissolved and my heart melted, and I wanted to weep very much, but I restrained myself so as not to bring disgrace on my brothers. So I said to them, I know nothing; I am a slave.”
15:4 “Then they conferred about selling me so that I might not be discovered in bondage to them, for they feared my father,”
15:5 “That he might come and avenge himself powerfully against them. They had heard that he was a great person in the sight of God and men.”
15:6 “Then the trader said to them, Release me from Pentephris’ judgment. So they came and requested of me, Say that you were purchased by us with money, and then he will release us from responsibility.”

Chapter 16

16:1 “The Memphian woman said to her husband, But the young man, for I hear it said that they are selling him.”
16:2 “Immediately she sent a eunuch to the Ishmaelites, requesting them to sell me.”
16:3 “But the eunuch was not willing to buy me and came away after testing them out. He told his mistress that they were asking a great deal of money for the boy.”
16:4 “She sent the eunuch back again and told him, Even if they are asking two minas; offer it. Do not be sparing of the gold; just buy the boy and bring him to me.”
16:5 “The eunuch went and gave them eighty pieces of gold and took me away, but he told the Egyptian woman he had paid a hundred. Although I knew the facts, I kept quiet in order not to bring the eunuch under disgrace.”

Chapter 17

17:1 “So you see, my children, how many things I endured in order not to bring my brothers into disgrace.”
17:2 “You, therefore, love one another and in patient endurance conceal one another’s shortcomings.”
17:3 “God is delighted by harmony among brothers and by the intention of a kind heart that takes pleasure in goodness.”
17:4 “When my brothers came to Egypt they learned that I had returned their money to them, that I did not scorn them, and that I sought to console them.”
17:5 “After the death of Jacob, my father, I loved them beyond measure, and everything he had wanted for them I did abundantly in their behalf.”
17:6 “I did not permit them to be troubled by the slightest matter, and everything I had under my control I gave to them.”
17:7 “Their sons were mine, and mine were as their servants; their life was as my life, and every pain of theirs was my pain; every ailment of theirs was my sickness; their wish was my wish.”
17:8 “I did not exalt myself above them arrogantly because of my worldly position of glory, but I was among them as one of the least.” (Matt 23:11)

Chapter 18

18:1 “If you live in accord with the Lord’s commands, God will exalt you with good things forever.”
18:2 “And if anyone wishes to do you harm, you should pray for him, along with doing good, and you will be rescued by the Lord from every evil.”
18:3 “Indeed you can see that on account of my humility and patient endurance I took to myself a wife, the step-daughter of the priest of Heliopolis; a hundred talents of gold were given to me along with her, and my Lord caused them to be my servants.”
18:4 “And he also gave me mature beauty, more than those of mature beauty in Israel; he preserved me until old age with strength and beauty. In every way I was like Jacob.”

Chapter 19

19:1 “Listen, my children, concerning the dream that I saw.”
19:2 “Twelve stags/harts were grazing at a certain place; nine were scattered over the whole earth, and likewise also the three”
Aramaic:
19:3 “And as I looked, the three stags became three lambs; they cried out to the Lord, and the Lord let them into a fertile, well-watered place. He led them out of darkness into the light.”
19:4 “And there they cried out to the Lord until the nine stages were gathered to him, and they all became like twelve sheep. After a short time they multiplied and became many herds.”
19:5 “Later as I was looking, twelve bulls were nursing from one cow, who furnished a sea of milk.”
19:6 “The twelve herds and the innumerable herds drank from it. And the horns of the fourth bull ascended to heaven and became as a rampart for the herds. And from between the two horns there sprouted forth yet another horn.”
19:7 “And I saw a heifer which surrounded them twelve times and which became to perfection an aide to the bulls.”
19:8 “And I saw in the midst of the horns a certain virgin/maiden wearing a multicolored stole; from her came forth a lamb. Rushing from the left were all sorts of wild animals and reptiles, and the lamb conquered them.”
19:9 “Because of him the bull rejoiced and the cow and the stags were also glad with them.”
19:10 “These things must take place in their appropriate time.”
19:11 “And you, my children, honor Levi and Judah, because from them shall arise the salvation of Israel.”
19:12 “For my kingdom shall have an end among you, like an orchard guard who disappears after the summer.”

Chapter 20

20:1 “For I know that after my death the Egyptians will oppress you, but God will work vengeance on your behalf, and will lead you into the promises made to your fathers.”
20:2 “You shall carry my bones along with you, for when you are taking my bones up there, the Lord will be with you in the light, while Beliar/Satan will be with the Egyptians in the dark.”
20:3 “Take Aseneth, your mother, and bury her by the hippodrome, near Rachel, your grandmother.”
20:4 “And when he had said this he stretched out his feet and fell into a beautiful sleep.”
20:5 “And all Israel and all Egypt mourned with great lamentation.”
20:6 “And at the departure of the sons of Israel from Egypt, they took along Joseph’s bones and buried him in Hebron with his fathers. The years of his life were one hundred ten.”

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